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01-30-2015, 01:30 PM   #1
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New to DSLR photography

Over the years I have used (and still own) a number Pentax film cameras e.g., K1000, Super program, PZ-1. I have just bought my first DSLR a K-5 11, a 18-55 kit lens and 360 FGZ flash. I own a number of other manual and auto focus Pentax lenses. As far as Digital photography goes, so far I have only used point and shoot digital cameras in JPEG. I am somewhat confused with all the digital terminology as well as all the computer work required with a DSLR camera.
So, as I see it if I take pictures in RAW, RAW+ or DNG RAW I then have to use the Silkypix Utility 4 bundled with the camera to convert the pictures into TIFF and then use either Lightroom 5 or Silkipix to work on the images and save them in the modified form as well as in JPEG. Is the Silkipix bundled with the camera the same program used to modify images or is that another Silkipix program I have to buy? Also, of the Silkipix and Lightroom 5, which one is easier to use and better. Thanks for the info.

01-30-2015, 02:33 PM   #2
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use DNG as RAW format in your camera and you will be able to work with your pictures with lightroom 5 without any converting, i don't use Silkypix so i can't help you there but i use lightroom 5 and it is in my opinion a userfriendly programm (easy to understand the basics)
01-30-2015, 02:58 PM   #3
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Lightroom 5 will import all the files from the K5ii whether they are in RAW, DNG or JPEG format. No need to use Silkipix if you have Lightroom.
01-30-2015, 03:08 PM   #4
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You can, however, use the Silkypix included with the camera to do a lot of the processing and output directly to JPG. i.e. you don't necessarily have to buy LR.

Sometimes, I think that when you are a new user and jumping in with RAW, it's worth playing a bit with what you already have to figure out what you might need. i.e. LR is a great program, but perhaps you can get what you want out of the software you have up front.

There is a lot to learn and a lot of options for how to get from camera to JPG/Print.

01-30-2015, 07:40 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forums.

You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by post-processing. I was the same. The key is to simplify it as much as possible.

As @emalvick says, Silkypix can open and process DNG files directly. I used it to start out, just to fix exposure, white balance (colour), contrast, etc. It did OK, but after a while most people want something better.

Lightroom is popular, but people like various other programs. See this discussion:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/58-troubleshooting-beginner-help/285871-software.html
01-31-2015, 01:42 AM   #6
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There is no computer work required if you don't want to. I shoot RAW (DNG) plus JPG. If I'm happy with the results of the JPG, there is no need to process them (except possibly as for resizing / cropping). If I'm not happy, I have the option to process the RAW.

Nice thing about Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 (not sure if it's the same as yours; it's the version that came with the K5) is that it applies your camera settings by default to the RAW image. So you have a starting point to work from. And it has all basic functionalities; just try it for a while.

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01-31-2015, 07:19 AM   #7
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IMO there is always some computer work required, maybe not for adjusting WB color or exposure corrections but most photos need correction for lens distortion or possible chromatic aberration. Software and ones workflow is a matter of personal choice. Many software will work ok, it is a matter of how much one wants to put into learning a software and how much detailed adjustment one wants to be able to do. The good thing is most paid for software will have trials to use so one can find one they feel comfortable with and go from there.

Last edited by Oldbayrunner; 01-31-2015 at 07:25 AM.
01-31-2015, 08:49 AM - 3 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pentaxian 1 Quote
So, as I see it if I take pictures in RAW, RAW+ or DNG RAW I then have to use the Silkypix Utility 4 bundled with the camera to convert the pictures into TIFF and then use either Lightroom 5 or Silkipix to work on the images and save them in the modified form as well as in JPEG. Is the Silkipix bundled with the camera the same program used to modify images or is that another Silkipix program I have to buy? Also, of the Silkipix and Lightroom 5, which one is easier to use and better. Thanks for the info.
Yeah, it can be very confusing. I'll try to explain some of the terminology:

JPEG is a processed and compressed image. Based on the camera settings, it can be a radical departure from the original image that came off the camera sensor. You can think of it as analogous to a print made from a film negative. The person making the print can apply various adjustments to make it different from what's on your original negative.

RAW format is the data coming off of the camera's sensor, with little or no processing. The JPEG produced by the camera is made from this RAW data. The camera is doing a "RAW conversion" to create the JPG.
Think of RAW as analogous to your film negative. It contains more information than the JPEG version of the image. Point and Shoot cameras often only let you see the JPEG - they don't store the RAW data - and so you don't have the option of making a different RAW conversion with different settings. It's like the P&S camera throws away your negative. Maybe that's ok most of the time, but maybe it isn't.

DNG is just one particular format for storing RAW data. Pentax cameras give you the option of storing your RAW image in this format, or in a proprietary Pentax format ( PEF ). Some Pentax cameras no longer give you the option of using PEF, they only support DNG. DNG is preferred by some because it is not proprietary, and is widely recognized by different software programs. So using DNG format may give you more options for opening the RAW files without having to convert them first.

If your Pentax DSLR gives you the option of choosing a RAW format, I would set it to DNG, but it's probably not a big deal if you use PEF. The important thing is to have the RAW file, the format is secondary.

In my own experience, I've found that most of the time, my DSLR does a pretty good job of generating a usable JPEG image. But this doesn't always happen. Sometimes, the camera JPEG doesn't have the look I was after, or maybe I screwed up the
exposure. I can make adjustments to the JPEG image generated by the camera, but I am limited in what I can do before I start to see image degradation. Analogy time...

If you were trying to adjust an exposure for a print made from film, you would go back to your negative and make a new print, you wouldn't start with a print and try to make a new print from it. Going back to the negative gives you much more latitude.

The same applies in the digital world. If you are not happy with the RAW conversion performed by the camera ( ie. the camera JPEG ), and you need to make adjustments, you have far more latitude to do so if you go back to the RAW file and generate a new JPEG from it. There are certain adjustments that are difficult or impossible to make on the JPEG - you NEED to make a new/custom RAW conversion from the RAW file.

But you need a RAW converter to do this, and using one can be a bit complicated. So maybe you want to use one only when necessary, at least when you're first starting out. But sooner or later, you are probably going to want to learn how to use a RAW converter.

So I would recommend shooting RAW+. RAW+ just means that your camera stores both the original RAW file as well as a processed JPEG. Continuing with my film analogy, that would be like your camera capturing a film negative and making a print for you at the same time. If you like how the JPEG ( print ) looks, you use that. If there's something about it you don't like, you also have the RAW file ( negative ) from which you can make a new JPEG ( using the RAW converter on your computer ).

Your DSLR has a whole bunch of adjustments ( saturation, contrast, etc. ) that only affect the JPEG version of your image. The RAW file is still the original image as it came off the sensor. This is why most DSLR shooters will shoot either RAW or RAW+.

Although shooting RAW+ gives you maximum flexibility, there's a price. Your camera will operate a bit slower since it has to write two files to the memory card for every image you capture. That will only affect you if you're shooting rapid bursts. Also, the two files occupy a lot of space on your memory card and on your computer's hard drive. So there's a cost in terms of storage.

So you only need to use a RAW converter when the JPEG output of the camera needs to be "fixed". If you're good at getting your exposures right, you may not need to do this very often - or you might only do it when you want to make some kind of adjustments for creative purposes. Perhaps you'll start off mostly using the camera JPEGs, and as time goes by, you'll start to do more and more of your own RAW conversions. Eventually, you may decide you don't want to use the camera JPGs at all anymore. At that point, you would switch from RAW+ to RAW to save some storage space. ( Why save camera JPEGs if you're always doing your own custom RAW conversions? or using my analogy: Why get prints from the lab if you're going to be making your own custom prints in your own darkroom? )

As far as the programs go, the various Pentax cameras come with different bundled RAW converters. Some come with what's called Pentax Digital Camera Utility ( PDCU ). I believe this is based on the Silkypix engine that's in your camera, but it has a somewhat clunky interface. The nice thing about it is that it produces output that is very similar to what the camera's JPEG engine produces. Some people like the output, and it is free, but like I said, the interface isn't the best. Some Pentax cameras ( eg. K30 ) come with a somewhat crippled version of the commercial Silkypix converter. It has a nicer interface than PDCU, but in my experience, the output doesn't mimic the camera output in the same way. In fact, with properly exposed images, I've found it hard to generate as good an output from Silkypix 3.0 as the JPEGs that come straight out of my K30.

Some people don't like the interface on the bundled SW, or they want a more sophisticated RAW converter with additional features, so they opt for a different RAW converter. There are a number of RAW converters to choose from - some you pay for, some are free. Lots of people like Lightroom. Silkypix also makes a RAW converter you can buy which has a nicer interface than the PDCU you get with your camera. As others have mentioned, you can read up on the various programs in other threads, and most of them let you try them for free for a trial period.

So the bottom line is that you can shoot RAW+ when you're starting out. That will give you JPEGs you can use just like the JPEGs you got from your Point&Shoot camera. You can use any number of programs ( including the bundled software ) to make adjustments, crop/resize etc. to those camera JPEGs - just as you did before. You can also play around with the bundled RAW converter ( PDCU or Silkypix ) to try your hand at doing your own RAW conversions from the DNG files. Try to see if you can get results that are "better" than the JPEGs generated by the camera. It's all about keeping your options open.

At some point, you may "outgrow" the camera JPEGs and/or the bundled software, but you don't have to jump into the deep end of the pool on day one. Maybe someday, you'll settle on some other RAW converter, and do all your own custom RAW conversions. If you were shooting RAW+ from day one, you would have the option to go back and convert all your old photos because you still have the RAW files.

Back to the analogy: shooting RAW+ means you've got "prints" to share in the short-term, but you also still have all your old negatives safely stored away should you decide to work with them at some future date.

I hope this clears up some of your confusion. Please do not hesitate to ask if you would like further clarification.

( I've purposely omitted mentioning TIFF - TIFF is another format for storing PROCESSED images. It is similar to JPEG, except that it is loss-less, and 16 bit TIFF can store much finer granularity of colour/tone than 8bit JPEG. But a 16 bit TIFF is huge. It can be useful if you need to get the image from one program to another without losing any information )


Last edited by arkav; 01-31-2015 at 10:37 AM.
01-31-2015, 11:08 AM   #9
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I feel you on your transition from digital to film. I started with a K1000 back in 1984. I used a Super Program for twenty years until I bought K10D back in 2007. I never used the bundled Pentax software, I started right away with Lightroom. You could also use Photoshop Elements which is less expensive and a bit easier to learn. Sometimes I shoot RAW+ sometimes I shoot just RAW. I always use the DNG format because it is more univerasal. I actually do not personally know anyone who does not use the DNG format. I never personally use tiff format, just jpeg.

What very software you choose I suggest buying a good book on using the software. This will help you with storing and organizing catalogs, especially in Lightroom. For someone starting out I would suggest shooting in RAW+ to have both the raw and jpeg files. With the larger size cards these days I no longer find this to be a problem. This way can just use the jpeg file if like it or if want to do corrections you can go back to the raw file. This can cut down the amount of post processing you have to do.
01-31-2015, 04:35 PM   #10
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Many thanks to all who replied to my query, you have all been a great help. I have a much clearer understanding of the process involved and what I need to do.
01-31-2015, 11:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Oldbayrunner Quote
IMO there is always some computer work required, maybe not for adjusting WB color or exposure corrections but most photos need correction for lens distortion or possible chromatic aberration
My approach is (currently) slightly different; if a lens has pincushion or barrel distortion and therefore the capture looks odd, I consider it part of the capturing process. If I don't like the result, I throw the image away; else I live with it. If buildings seem to be falling over, same approach.

Same approach for CA.
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